Green 'smear campaign' against professor who dared to disown 'sexed up' UN climate dossier | Mail Online

By David Rose

Published: 18:19 EST, 5 April 2014 | Updated: 18:33 EST, 5 April 2014

Accused: Professor Richard Tol, who said the new report by the UN was 'alarmist' and focused on 'scare stories'

The professor who refused to sign last week’s high-profile UN climate report because it was too ‘alarmist’, has told The Mail on Sunday he has become the victim of a smear campaign.  

Richard Tol claims he is fighting a sustained attack on his reputation by a key figure from a leading institution that researches the impact of global warming.

Prof Tol said: ‘This has all the characteristics of a smear campaign. It’s all about taking away my credibility as an expert.’

Prof Tol, from Sussex University, is a highly respected climate economist and one of two ‘co-ordinating lead authors’ of an important chapter in the 2,600-page report published last week by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

He has been widely criticised by green campaigners after he claimed that the much shorter ‘summary for policymakers’ – hammered out in all-night sessions between scientists and government officials over a week-long meeting in Yokohama, Japan – was overly ‘alarmist’.

In his view, the summary focused on ‘scare stories’ and suggestions the world faced ‘the four horsemen of the apocalypse’.

He said he did not want his name associated with it because he felt ‘uncomfortable’ with the way the  summary exaggerated the economic impact of global warming.

The source of the alleged smear campaign is Bob Ward, director of policy at the London School of Economics’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change.

Mr Ward – neither an economist nor a climate expert – claimed on the institute’s website that he was waging ‘an ongoing struggle’ to force Prof Tol to correct ‘errors’ in his work.

Mr Ward had earlier sent an email  disparaging Prof Tol’s research to  several leading IPCC scientists and officials.

Source: The man behind the alleged smear campaign is Bob Ward, director of policy at the London School of Economics's Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change

They included Prof Tol’s fellow co-ordinating lead author, Doug  Arent, director of America’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory; and Professor Chris Field of Stanford  University, the overall chairman and editor of the IPCC report.


The email claimed that Prof Tol’s ‘antics’ were ‘likely to reflect badly on the IPCC  and his co-authors’. In response Professor Arent informed Mr Ward that the chapter he co-ordinated with Prof Tol  was ‘double and triple checked’.

He added that after Mr Ward – one of the IPCC’s registered ‘reviewers’ –  found a tiny, statistical error in an  earlier draft, it was revised.

And polar bears? For once, they are not mentioned, but scientists agree that they are doing well, with a rebound in their numbers of up to 500 per cent since hunting was banned in the 1970s

On the website, Mr Ward said he spotted errors in three of Prof Tol’s papers in October and raised them in an email to him. But according to Mr Ward, Prof Tol ‘refused to give any undertaking to correct them’. In one email seen by this paper, Mr Ward admits the errors are ‘small’.  Mr Ward added that after further correspondence, Prof Tol ‘seemed determined not to correct his papers’.

Yet weeks before Mr Ward published his article, Prof Tol volunteered to correct a handful of highly technical, minor numerical mistakes. And almost a month before Mr Ward’s article appeared, a scientific journal had asked him to write his own article, saying what he found wrong with Prof Tol’s work.

Prof Tol said yesterday: ‘Ward claims I refused to correct errors, but it’s not true.’ He added that the errors made no difference to his conclusion that global warming of up to 2.5C may have a net beneficial impact on the world economy.

Ward admitted yesterday that the journals which published Tol’s papers told him weeks ago that he was prepared to correct some of his alleged errors, and that he had been asked to write a paper of his own.

He denied his actions were a smear campaign, insisting he was merely fulfilling his role as an IPCC reviewer and claiming that he still did not know which ‘errors’ Tol was prepared to correct. He said: ‘If Tol thinks I am engaged in a smear campaign because I have pointed out his errors he is redefining what a smear campaign means. It is his behaviour that is unreasonable.’

He said that Tol had called him an ‘attack dog’ in his own blog and that this was ‘abusive’.

How IPPC report was ramped up to predict wars, extreme weather and famine... while its authors slept on the job


According to Raj Pachauri, chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), its report last week was its most terrifying yet, portending famine, disease, extreme weather and wars, proving ‘no one on this planet is going to be untouched’.

But a Mail on Sunday analysis shows that the 47-page ‘summary for policymakers’ of a much more detailed 2,600-page document – ‘sexed up’ some of the key findings.

Its ‘alarmist’ spin led Professor Richard Tol to demand his name be removed from it.

Extreme weather

Neither report covers the science of climate change, only possible impacts. Many of these, the full document admits, are difficult to forecast.

In any case, computer models say the world should already be warmer – as this newspaper has reported many times.

The strangest thing about the summary is the way it was produced. For seven days, about 200 people – 120 of them government officials, not scientists – sat in a hall in Yokohama, Japan, trying to hammer out a final draft reflecting the full text.

Big issues were not resolved until the final session, which started at 9.30pm and ended at 10am next day. Long before that, many delegates had left or fallen asleep. ‘Important decisions were made by a handful of countries which were still there, including the UK and US,’ says one source. ‘It’s no wonder the summary isn’t a true reflection of what the scientists wrote.’

Here are some of the discrepancies .  .  .

Real cost of Climate McCarthyism, apart from big bills, is to free speech


At the heart of the current, poisoned debate about global warming lies a paradox. Thanks to the ‘pause’, the unexpected plateau in world surface temperatures which has now lasted for 17 years, the science is less ‘settled’ than it has been for years.

Yet, despite this uncertainty, those who use it to justify a range of potentially ruinous energy policies have become ever more extreme in their pronouncements. Their latest campaign is an attempt to silence anyone who disagrees.

This reached a new and baleful milestone last week, with a report from the Commons Science and Technology Committee saying BBC editors must obtain special ‘clearance’ before interviewing climate ‘sceptics’.

The committee’s chairman, Labour MP Andrew Miller, likened sceptics to the Monster Raving Loony Party, suggesting they should be allowed to express their views with similar frequency.

Opinion: Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, often calls climate change deniers 'sceptic'

High profile commentators, including the Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey, often describe climate change sceptics as ‘deniers’, on a par with those who reject evidence of the Holocaust.

One Sunday columnist recently insisted the parallel was exact, because the evidence of global warming is as strong as that  for Auschwitz.

Academics who deviate from the perceived ‘correct’ line risk vilification. The most recent example is Professor Richard Tol of Sussex University, who had the temerity to remove his name from a UN climate report because he said it was ‘alarmist’.

Another is Prof Roger Pielke Jnr of Colorado. His ‘crime’ is to have published evidence that, so far, hurricanes have not become more frequent, while financial losses from extreme weather have not increased as a result of climate change. His reward has been an organised campaign demanding he be sacked.

The Breakthrough Institute – an influential, and very green – US think tank has described those who try to close down debate in this way as ‘climate McCarthyites’, after the infamous 1950s Senator who sought to root out Communists from American public life.

It is an increasingly apt analogy. Miller, Davey and their allies often cite a study showing that 97 per cent of academic papers dealing with climate say that human-induced  global warming is real.

But here is the thing: so do almost all of those attacked as ‘deniers’, including Lord Lawson, whose appearance on the Radio 4 Today show in February sparked the current furore over sceptics getting airtime.

Where they differ from the supposed mainstream is not over the existence of warming, but its speed, and how to deal with it.

Then, so do many scientists. The ‘pause’ means that the climate computer models, on which most forecasts are based, say the world should already be rather warmer than it is: in one expert’s words, they are ‘running too hot’.

Opposing: A US think tank has described those who try to close down debate as 'climate McCarthyites', after the infamous 1950s Senator (pictured) who sought to root out Communists from American public life

Why is this? Many scientists are engaged in honest attempts to answer this question. Some suggest that the ‘climate sensitivity’ – a measure of how much the world will warm in response to a given increase in carbon dioxide – may be significantly lower than was widely believed only a few years ago.

Moreover, the response to rising CO2 adopted thus far palpably has not worked. The emissions cuts agreed by the EU and other countries at the 1997 Kyoto Treaty and imposed by our own Climate Change Act have made energy more expensive, and exported jobs and prosperity to countries such as China – which adds billions of watts of coal fired power to its grid each year. CO2 emissions have continued to rise.

The architects of such policies know they have failed, but they have no alternative except more of the same. Maybe it’s because their argument is weak that they resort to climate McCarthyism. The cost, apart from higher energy bills, is to democracy, and free speech.

Controversial: Labour MP Andrew Miller, likened sceptics to the Monster Raving Loony Party

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